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Bird flu confirmed in 3 Southern states; poultry not at risk

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Bird flu has now been confirmed in three Southern states, but officials say the nation’s poultry supply isn’t at risk.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture said on March 21 that it’s temporarily banning the transportation of poultry after a form of the disease was found in a commercial flock of 22,000 hens in western Kentucky. The state says the farm was placed under quarantine and the birds were killed.

The announcement came as the state of Alabama confirmed the presence of the same form of bird flu in two flocks there. Another form of the poultry illness was previously detected in Tennessee.

Officials say none of the infected birds have entered the food chain. They say temporary measures limiting the movement of birds should help prevent the spread of the disease.

North Dakota tops in honey production for 13th straight year

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota was tops in the nation in honey production in 2016 for the 13th consecutive year.

The Agriculture Department says North Dakota producers with five or more colonies made 37.8 million pounds of honey last year, up 4 percent from the previous year.

The 485,000 honey-producing colonies in the state were down slightly, but average yield was up 4 pounds to 78 pounds per colony.

Prices for the 2016 crop averaged $1.73 per pound, down from $1.80 in 2015.

Lawsuit seeks more freedom for wineries in frosty Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Two Minnesota wineries are suing the state to try to overturn a law that requires them to make their products with a majority of grapes grown in Minnesota, a state better known for winters than vineyards.

The wineries say the state Farm Wineries Act unconstitutionally hampers their ability to source grapes and juice from elsewhere and use them in their wines as they see fit.

Nan Bailly, owner of one of Minnesota’s oldest wineries, Alexis Bailly Vineyards, of Hastings, says she wants the freedom to make the wines that she chooses.

The Minnesota Grape Growers Association hasn’t taken an official position on the lawsuit yet.

But the group’s president, David Mohn of Flower Valley Vineyards and Winery near Red Wing, says the novelty factor of Minnesota-grown wine should be protected.

Oklahoma may legalize hog hunting from helicopters

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma could soon join Louisiana and Texas in allowing hunters to shoot feral hogs from helicopters.

The Tulsa World reports that aerial gunners are already used to help control feral swine in Oklahoma, but the work can only be done by trained, licensed contractors with support from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry.

Lawmakers are considering a bill to expand that to private operations. Under the proposal, landowners, companies and pilots would have to apply for a state license and be responsible for the activity.

But hunters on board the aircraft wouldn’t need a license, nor would they have to provide their names to the state.

The agriculture department says its agents killed more than 11,200 pigs, mostly by air, last year.